Results from a numerical and experimental study that illustrate the effects of laminate orthotropy on the buckling and failure response of compression-loaded composite cylindrical shells with a cutout are presented. The effects of orthotropy on the overall response of compression-loaded shells is described. In general, preliminary numerical results appear to accurately predict the buckling and failure characteristics of the shell considered herein. In particular, some of the shells exhibit stable post-local-buckling behavior accompanied by interlaminar material failures near the free edges of the cutout. In contrast another shell with a different laminate stacking sequence appears to exhibit catastrophic interlaminar material failure at the onset of local buckling near the cutout and this behavior correlates well with corresponding experimental results.